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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  March 28, 2011 5:00pm-7:00pm EDT

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the people you talked about. you said she was before your time? >> before i started politics. i was still running around on the police beat those days. a lot of people really looked up to her and thanks for coming down to atlanta and filling in for me last week. >> you have a great team there. >> thank you, joe johns. and now to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." thank you, brooke. president obama hours away from speak together nation and addressing the mltd action in libya. libyan rebels are closing in on moammar gadhafi's birthplace warning the battle ahead may be their toughest and bloodiest yet and scary new discoveries at japan's crippled nuclear power
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plant. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." in libya, rebels share renewed momentum against moammar gadhafi's forces, but here in washington president obama is facing lots of criticism for the u.s. mission in libya. two and a half hours from now he'll try to ease concerns about the operation's goals, its costs and the end game. his remarks coming a little over a week from the first coalition air strikes and critical time for opposition fighters on the ground. gadhafi's troops wiped out some of the gains but in recent days coalition air strikes have helped rebels seize some of the
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northern stays. now to reza sayah with more on benghazi. what's the latest information, ressa, that you are getting. >> reporter: these forces had an impressive three days capturing five towns from the gadhafi forces. today they finally met some resistance, the first in about 72 hours. that resistance coming in the city of sirte, gadhafi's birthplace, his hometown. when you talk to opposition officials here they anticipated a fights there and they got t.rebel figorces pushing back a one rebel fighter telling cnn that he and a group of other fighters cornelio sommaruga gadhafi soldiers waving a right
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flag, that, of course, the universal signal for i give up, i surrender and the rebel fighter telling us as they approach the group of soldiers, the soldiers fired on them. these are accounts we can't independently verify but the types of the stories we're been hearing over the past several of days. they are an indication, wolf, of the type of challenges that these rebel forces made moving into a city like sit. opposition forces say they have repeated and they are planning, regrouping and strategize are for the next time. >> opposition forces in benghazi and looking forward to president obama's speech on libya tonight. libyans are night owls. they stay up land and obama's
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speech will be closer to 11:00. mr. obama along with french president sarkozy are very popular men here because, of course, the french and u.s. air strikes have led the no-no fly. i don't know he can change anything and the libyan people, what they are serious about, the opposition here, is the fact that nato is taking charge of this operation and what it will mean for the air strikes, if there's a de-escalation. they are hoping to call on the air strikes to continue and many acknowledge it's been the air strikes that have facilitated this impressive push forward west towards tripoli which is the ultimate destination for the rebel fighters. >> we'll stay in close contact with you, reza sayah in benghazi for us. when president obama speaks about the libyan mission he'll be speaking to a nation weary of war and quite a few critics in congress from both sides of the aisle. got some news from the
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pentagoning a short while ago that may help him make his case that the fight in libya will end sooner rather than later, especially now that nato is formally taking over command. >> i know it seems as though i'm trying to hammer home a point here, and i guess i am. it's simply this. u.s. military participation in this operation, is as we've said all along, changing to one primarily of support. indeed one of our submarines has moved on to previously assigned tasking having completed all strike missions assigned to her, and maybe we aren't flying the bulk of sorties anymore, but the u.s. is now providing 80% of all air refueling and almost 73 pass of aerial surveillance hours and 100% of all electronic warfare missions. in other words, we will remain committed to the mission and to the mandate we've been told to enforce. >> let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent dana bash on capitol hill but first to our senior white house correspondent ed henry.
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ed, set the stage. how details will the president be in his speech tonight at the national defense university. >> reporter: well, white house aides are being very tight-lipped but know full well that the president is facing a raft of questions to get into more detail about the mission in the days ahead, not just from the republicans but the key is democrats on the hill as well who have been very critical of the president and who have wanted him for days to come out and speak and tonight what you'll hear is that he sees this as a key turning point now that nato has aggrieved of taking control and taking control and enforcing no-fly zone and the president previewed that had a little earlier today in an interview. >> our involvement there is going to be limited, both in time and in scope, but you're absolutely right that we have a very large defense budget. some of that is necessitated by
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the size of our country and the particular special role that we play around the globe. >> the key for the president tonight is not just going to be about explaining the mission in libya but how it fits into the prodder change. in a briefing with white house officials, peppered with such a question saying is there a libyan precedent, given the actions there, is the u.s. considering action here. it gives you an idea of the pressure on this president to explain not only this mission in libya but how it fits into the foreign policy goals. >> normally when the president sends young men and women off to war there's ran address from the oval office to the american people, and in this case the president has decided to go to
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ft. mcnair in washington, d.c. and speak before an audience at the national defense university. what was the thinking behind that? >> well, absolute, it's symbolically very important. number one, white house officials wanted the sacrifice of u.s. mrl try personnel, and more importantly big pictures, the president, aides say, said away because they thought it would run counter to the point he's trying to make. well over 100,000 u.s. troops early on in the mission in iraq and in afghanistan, tens of thousands of u.s. troops still there. he wants to make the point that this is much more limited than those other conflicts and they thought doing it in the oval office would raise the stakes much too high. they want to keep them in check. >> ed, thanks very much. let's go to our senior
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congressional correspondent dana bash. you've been speaking to a lot of members on the hill, democrats and republicans and a few independents as well. what do they want to hear from the president tonight? >> a big reason that the president is giving this speech tonight is because of the barrage of criticism that he's gotten from members of congress and both parties here, specifically about the way that he's communicated about the libyan mission. again, from both parties we've heard people say he's not defined the mission correctly and he and his top aides have been confusing in terms of what the libyan objective is and as far as what i've heard is what they really want the president to do is going forward what will the mission be as it's turned over to nato and more importantly, this is what i've heard emphasized from both parties. they want to know what is the
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exit strategy and end game? listen to the comes from both a democrat and republican. >> how long can we expect to be in the mission? i don't think he can give us an exact time but there needs to be a clear understanding of how long a commitment we're talking about and how much will be u.s. and how much will be international. >> when will the u.s. combat role in the operation end? will america's commitment end in days, not weeks, as the president promised? what will be the duration of the non-combat operation and what will be the cause? what national security interests of the united states justified the risk of american life. >> wolf, you know that there has been criticism from the president's own party for not coming to congress before to get approval before this military mission in libya. the man you just heard there,
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mish mcconnell says he thought the helicopter had the -- did the right thing and he said that if the stop and duration of the mission continues to expand, if u.s. forces launch additional air strikes, then the will the will have to come and get approval. >> the president said the u.s. leadership, the command would stop within a matter of days. nato would take charge but never did say the u.s. would ever walk away from its responsibilities. clearly this mission no matter the command is going to continue into the foreseeable future. robert gates said yesterday that libya was not in the, quote, not
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in the national security interests of the united states. how is that playing yet? >> not very well. secretary gets has bipartisan interest and to hear him say that the u.s. is engaged where there's not a vital use interest. he did say the region, of course, is of information and that's one of the issues people want the president to clarify tonight. if the u.s. doesn't have a -- >> how much is this going to cost the taxpayer? dana, thanks, very much. >> a woman stormed into a important hole tell saying she
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had been raped by government and should americans worry about uranium getting here from japan's failed factor?
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the death toll is climbing more than two weeks since
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devastating earthquake and tsunami in japan. officials now put the number of people killed at more than 10,800 and another 16,244 people are missing. meanwhile, new years of a radioactive leak from the containment vessel surrounding one of the damaged nuclear reactors. authorities believe contaminating water is seeping into tunnels, possibly even the pacific ocean. water found in one tunnel is emitting radioactivity more than 330 times the dose an average person receives per year. tokyo electric also says small amounts of plutonium have been detected in the soil, on plants, grounds, but stresses there's no health risk. meanwhile in the united states, very tiny, tiny amounts of radiation have been detected in some rain water in massachusetts. cnn's chad myers is monitoring this for us. chad, tell us what we know about this. >> i had to sharpen the chalk today to help you out because you're going to read about that
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number. 79, sounds like a big number and the problem is the pico. small, ten of them and at the end of the ten zeros you have a 79. that's the concentration of the iodine 131 in this rainwater. the cdc says you can drink it up to 108 if it's in your water so literally, know you never want to do that, but take all the rain water and still drink it and be under what the cdc says is the maximum amount. they found it in the running water. yes, it also. it's they didn't find it in the air. it rained and so all that up and down lifting it and dropped it
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down in massachusetts. all of the red states, colored red, from colorado, nevada, washington, north carolina, florida, south carolina and massachusetts have picked up some type of radiation spike and i baleine that in a very small turn because the rain water would be safe. raindrop purpose into millions or billions of other freshwater or fill dered out. so this is not significant for you to worry about. >> let's you agree. whatever radiation levels are showing up in massachusetts, maryland or any place in the massachusetts is not significant. >> absolutely, and i know people are freaking out all over the
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country where my two kids live and my foundation is based. nothing to worry about. this is a japanese radiation problem, not an american one. >> but plenty to worry about in january? 3z this is a very, very serious situation, much worse than the 3 million accident here. >> how close is it tocher possibly? >> no, no. >> the worst ever. >> won't get an explosion like that where the reactor is tlut into the sky and spreads over the continent. a problem in one facility affects the other areas. the water they have been used to go cool the reactors is now rising, inches away from a tunnel in one of the reactors,
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and they fear that water is going to start gushing into the pacific ocean, like a radioactive titanic. it's getting worse and worse. >> this could be another chernobyl, is that what you're saying? >> we could have an area around this site, 20 kilometers out, 40 kilometers out, that is heavily contaminated by radioactivity if we get the kind of breeches that people fear. if they are able to contain it, keep it inside the concrete boxes and then it will be a radioactive mess more localized. >> suggestions now that plutonium is in the skill, how significant that is if it is suggest. plutonium is one of the most toxic substantial stanceubstanc. it could be coming from the fuel reactors or the spent fuel. it's not a worrying sign in and of itself, but they are finding
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our isotopes, cesium, iodine which indicates there's some kind of breach in the reactors. that the rackivity inside is now starting to escape into the outside environment. >> i'm sure you saw the report oncher bow and the effects of chernobyl, some people wound up with cancer but didn't die. >> nobody died in three mile island and in chernobyl a dozen people died doing the rescue work and some of the japanese workers are going to die because what they are doing in that reactor today. saw it in chernobyl and experts say there's a few hundred and -- >> who got cancer and didn't necessarily die? >> that's right. that's the kind of danger you
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have for the people in japan for this reactor accident but it's so far away across a very large ocean that none of the radioactivity is expected to hit the united states. >> thanks so much for coming in. my pleasure. >> thank you very much. >> a lot of nervous people but better able to appreciate what's going on. >> thanks. one of the most porefying scenes during the massive tsunami. sendai airport has now reopened after undergoingthe tsunami. that and more coming up. stay with us.
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political turmoil intensifying across the middle east. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in "the situation room." the whole middle east seems to be exploding i think it's fair to say. >> that's right, wolf. at least 121 people are dead and another 45 injured after an explosion at an ammunition factor in southern yemen. most of the casualties were locals who were ransacking the building after it was taken over by militants yesterday. the blast comes amidst massive anti-government protests and a fight against a local al qaeda group. in syria, one witness describes a scene as extremely
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tense. new reports that security forces are storming the streets, firing shots and turning water cannons on anti-government protesters. the government is denying those claims. violent clashes have erupted in the country over recent days. the u.n. says at least 37 people have died since last week. former president jimmy carter is in cuba for a private visit focused on strengthening ties with that country. carter was invited on a non-governmental trip by raoul castro. and new york mayor michael bloomberg is having a little fun at the expense of the ill-fated spider-man broadway show. that's right. he made a stage entrance dressed as spider-man at an annual charity dinner and dangled above the stage and when the wire got stuck and there he is swinging, the performance, of course,
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mocking the multi-million dollar production which has been plagued with injuries and technical problems, an event for city hall reporters where they roast the mayor every year. >> give him a lot of credit. not only the mayor of new york. he's a real, real billionaire, worth like 10 billion, 15 billion, 20 billion and for him to be flying around like spider-man. >> i don't know what his insurance company would say. >> he's amazing, thanks very much. one of the biggest gripes about the u.s. mission in libya, the cost. a look at the bottom line, whether it's more than america can afford and a president's possible rivals in 2012. trying to use it against him and against one another.
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we're counting down to president obama's major speech on the u.s. mission in libya scheduled to begin two hours from now. a lot of people are asking if the nation already fighting two wars can afford another major military operation. lisa sylvester has been looking
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into this for us so i know one of the big considerations has been the cost of this war. how much is it going to cost american taxpayers? >> can i tell you, wolf. there are many variables in the cost of the conflicts. among the issue is how many missiles are fired and how many men are up patrolling the no-fly zone and even though nato is taking over, up until this point the u.s. taxpayer has been largely footing the bill. the cost of u.s. military involvement in libya is more than $500 million and continues to climb. 192 u.s. tomahawk missiles fired in the libyan military campaign. each one costs $1ment 4 million for a total of more than $268 million. 983 sorties or combat flying missions. one hour of flying those fighter jets costs 10,000, and then there's the downed strike eagle fighter to replace it with the
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latest generation joint strike fighter costs between $100 million to $150 million. >> the country is a bit war weary. this is the third conflict we're in right now. also, you know, we're talking about dollars here and talking millions and hundreds of millions and perhaps a billion or more and this comes at a time when there's a 1.5 trillion deficit in our sergeant so people are becoming much more cost of the operations like this. >> the money is coming from the existing pentagon budget. >> we do feel confident given the nature and limitations on the mission that it can be paid for will be existing budget appropriations. >> but that is drawing skepticism from the critics of the obama administration, among
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them former house speaker newt gingrich who says if this campaign extends a career or two years the white house will have to ask for a war supplemental. >> the word was yesterday that they would take it out of the current track. >> the u.s. military has done the eyion's share of enforcing the no-fly zone because of the u.s.' role which is able to take down the libyan military targets. >> white house spokesman jay carry says he'll provide resources. >> it's generating a lot of buzz out there. the u.s. has frozen $34 billion
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with a "b," mostly gadhafi's money, libya's money, keep a tab, what it winds up costing, deduct that from the frozen libyan assets in the united states. the libyan people will be grateful because the u.s. is helping to liberate their country from gadhafi so, you know, that's what -- they should reimburse the u.s. taxpayers for all the costs of this war. that's my proposal. >> and i'm sure the u.s. taxpayers, many of them out there, will be happy with that proposal. >> they follow me on twitter as they do, send me e-mails and like that idea and probably members of congress like it, too. >> you can call it the wolf plank. >> i like that. >> the government of the libyan mission may come back to haunt the president in 2012. some of his most vocal critics are republicans who may run against him. let's bring in our nothing political correspondent gellin. newt gingrich, getting a lot of
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attention for saying he opposed the operation. >> what newt gingrich is saying he was never personally in favor of a no-fly zone but once president obama said gadhafi ought to go that's the only way to achieve that objective and here's how he cleaned it up. >> the president on march 3rd changed the rules of the game. he came out publicly and said gadhafi must go. i was siting the-- >> anything less than removing gadhafi would be a defeat for the u.s. wolf? >> other potential republican presidential candidates. they think they have an advantage though on some specific aspects of this debate. >> yeah, that's right. in mike huckabee's words it's, quote, unconscionable that
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american service men and women overseas are taking orders from, quote, non-americans because they are on a nato mission. >> an example from fox news and the american family association on potential republican candidates. >> are we really going to turn over command and control to the arab league and the british and french and when do we get to reclaim the command and control over our troops? that's just one of the big questions. >> we can't let american military power be controlled by the arab league, controlled by nato, whatever, the eu and that's what obama's policies seem to be. >> it's an all together different situation to ever have u.s. troops under the command of a foreign government. i do not believe there's ever a point in which u.s. troops should be getting their orders from someone not sworn to uphold the same constitution. >> so i looked into this and here's the reality of how it
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works. when a u.s. pilot flies a strike mission even under a nato commission, they report to a supreme allied commander. some of the commanders below are not american and we've been through this before, in world war ii and ball kun war. some commanders in the hierarchy were british. that's not true. >> i'm glad you did that reality check, jessica. if you wouldn't have, i was ready to do it myself. thanks very much. an ugly and dangerous scene when a woman ran into a tripoli hotel shouting to journalists she had been raped by gadhafi's forces. what happened next and where is she now? we're following that. stay with us.
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libyan officials say they are investigating a woman's claim she was raped, raped by forces loyal to moammar gadhafi.
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they are calling it a, quote, criminal case. senior international correspondent nic robertson was there when a woman burst into a hotel to tell her story to foreign journalists over the weekend and during the brawl that followed nic has followed up on her story. >> reporter: government officials initially told us when the lady was taken away by high speed in a car that she was mentally unstable and being taken to a hospital. reports say she is safe and well and that she was at a police investigation headquarters filing a criminal complaint against the men she alleged raped her. now government officials are telling us she is at home with family here in tripoli. many journalists have been asking if they can go and see her. there are many concerns and questions about what we're being told about her and about her well-being. the government here has been involved in a smear campaign against her. state television raising all
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sorts of questions suggesting that she's been involved in prostitution. indeed, the government spokesman himself said earlier on record saying she was a prostitute and i asked him about that. >> you have been on the record yourself -- >> could we -- nic, could we not discuss. no, no, listen, nic. nic, could we please. this is a very -- nic, please. could we just, to respect her, her daughter, her family, the respect. this is a very conservative society. could we not expose her in public, please. i mean, what do you care about, nic? not to embarrass me as i'm standing on the stand. what you care b.listen, if i said something, i said what i knew, okay? i don't want to repeat anything i said. i'm not withdrawing from what i said. i'm saying i don't want to make it even more known, even more
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public. this is a criminal case. this woman has a family. we need to protect her privacy and her daughter's rights when she gross up. we need to make this as a legal case as possible without talking about their histories, their files, especially since we have a very conservative society and as a sign of respect for this woman and i'm quite sure the okay from them will come. >> a lot of journalists reaching out to her family and reaching out to see her and hear her story and see how she is and as the government said she's been released and many questions are outsiding. her family says she doesn't have a child and they will continue to push the issue. of course, so many questions
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about her safety and well-being until that happens. nic robertson, cnn, tripoli, libya. rebels are advancing in their battle against the libyan dictator, moammar gadhafi. we're on the front lines with a live report. that's coming up. and has president obama succeeded in selling the military operation in libya to the american public? we'll talk about it in our strategy session. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." shorts! tanktops! [ female announcer ] grab a box of multigrain cheerios. get a code to... ...a 7 day plan to get going on your summer weight loss. get the box. get the code. get started! hi. i'm dan hesse, ceo of sprint. the other day, i looked up the word "unlimited" in the dictionary. nowhere in the definition did i see words like...
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president obama has a huge speech on libya tonight. let's talk about what we can expect to hear and should be hearing. joining us our cnn political contributor, democratic strategist james carville. also joining us contributor, the former bush
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speech writer david frum. james, if you were advising this president, what's the single most important thing he needs to tell the american people tonight? >> tell them they are not going to be there very long and convince them that we won't be there very long. this is the third or fourth war in the middle east and the secretary of defense has said we shouldn't be in any more wars, not enthusiastic about this. people, if he wants to do well, looks like the initial thing is working pretty well but no one wants this thing to go on very long. got to convince us and convince the american people that that's the case here and he understands that. >> define very long, a week, a month, a year, what's very long? >> you know, rumsfeld said we might be in iraq five days, five weeks but certainly not five months, you know, hoping he'll convince that we'll be out in about a month or so. people's patience for war is rather thin. >> what's the single most
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important thing the president needs to say tonight? >> i think james car vilville g some pretty bad advice. when you say the wrong things you lose the ability to do the right thing. if the president tells everybody my main message this isn't going to last very long, why is it worth doing that, if it's that unimportant why are we there and you also telegraph to gadhafi just hold on, help is on the way. the president needs to communicate is why this is important and that we have an issue here of the risk of a somalia on the mediterranean, that we have huge oil reserves that could fall into the wrong hands. we have nato at stake with the british and french and italians hugely committed and asking for america's support. this is not america's war, france's war. america is there to help, it's important and worth doing and here's why, one, two, three and then by the way add at the end it won't take that long. >> you know, always a good reason to go into iraq and in
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afghanistan and pakistan, a good reason to go into libya and to bahrain and a good reason to start a war anywhere and, you know, i don't know, we're a little tuckered out here. on top of that, north korea and iran are still around and people see these things and they are assured they are going well and assured they won't be there very long, the same claptrap in iraq. rumsfeld said we'll never be there for five months. it's going to be a cakewalk. >> if james is right -- if james is right, then the president should have -- what he's real saying is the president made the wrong decision and no speech can save him because this is not important. if it's not worth doing, if it's not worth winning, then it's not worth doing. >> guys, hold your thought for a movement i want to continue this conversation. we'll take a quick break and more of the strategy session with david and james coming up. also, an airport nearly washed away in that devastating japan tsunami. just ahead, we'll see what it looks like. you might be surprised by the transformation.
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let's get back to our strategy session with our cnn political contributor james carvil contributor david frum. let me go to you david, first. look at these new pew research center poll numbers.
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was it the right decision for the u.s. and allies to launch the air strikes. 47% say it was the right decision. 17% say they don't know. so slightly more say it was the right decision. if you dig deeper, among republicans 54% say it's the right decision. democrats only 49% say it's the right decision and 44% of independents say it was the right decision. what do those numbers, david, say to you? there's a little bit of good news. republicans are reachable in times of national interest and will rally to a president even of the opposing party. it tells me those are not going to war numbers. a plurality of numbers is not sufficient. the president ha bring a lot more people along with him. he's been so concerned to win support at the u.n. security council and in the arab world, but it's american who's pay his salary. he has to win their support. there is a case to make but he has not made it. a long time has passed. this uprising started on the
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15th february. he said on march 3rd, gadhafi must go. it is now the end of march. it's a long time. >> the criticism that a lot of republicans and others are launching including some democrats against the president is he seemed to be more concerned about winning the support of the united nations security council, winning the support of the arab league, the europeans than winning support of congress. >> right. these were the same clowns that talked about the chocolate producing nations of the world. people that told us all we had to do was go it alone. the idea of building support in the arab league or building support with other allies tends to make sense to me. i think the president has been judicious in this. i think wars are like affairs. these things are very easy to get into. a might tougher to get out of. count me as somebody that likes a little dithering here. i wish there would have been. >> you think the president made a mistake by doing this? >> i don't know if he made a
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mistake. i certainly think he's acted pretty calm in all of this. he hasn't rushed into anything. you know, the secretary of state and other people are urging him it was a humanitarian crisis. i hope it turns out to be the right decision. it looks like the early results according to what i've seen in the press seem to be pretty good. we don't have a good history with our involvement in the middle. >> thank you. president obama is preparing to defend the u.s. mission in libya to congress, the nation and indeed, the world. it was a horrific scene at the sendai airport when the quake and tsunami hit japan. we're going back there to see we're going back there to see what's going on right now. -- captions by vitac -- igence that's helping business rethink how to do business. in here, machines tell factories when they're thirsty. so soft drink companies can manage thousands of vending machines in real time. ♪ and customers find what they want...when they want it most. it's the at&t network -- a network of possibilities,
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sinr sincep since a si epicenter. martin savidge went back there r to sto see hop to toe recovery are going. >> if you remember some of the most amazing images that came out in the first hours after the tsunami, one of them would have to be the airport in sendai. so amazing to see this massive airport overrun with water and debris. now we're going back. to see how it looks today. but first, we have to avoid japan's on going nuclear disaster. this is the fukushima reactor, the 25 mile restricted area. this is our airplane.
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>> colonel rob was aboard the first plane top land at sendai after the tsunami. >> i think anything you see on tv, hollywood with their special effects can't put in perspective the amount of destruction on the day we arrived. >> sweeping in for landing our else is, we see none of that. you can probably see for the most part behind us it looks great. it really does. the transition is amazing. given what happened here the day of the disaster. but get away from the runway and you see the reminders. which a literal army of 240 usairmen, soldiers and marines alongside japanese civilians frantically worked to clear. by just dumb luck, there were no large passenger planes here when the wave hit but hundreds of mostly private aircraft weren't so lucky and look at though they fell from the sky, even ones in the hangars weren't spared. this is the entrance here the an sendai like any normal earn
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airport only it's not so normal now. sendai's an international hub. think logan airport or dulles. japanese officials had written the place off. did you think it would be able to be reopened? >> to be honest, the answer is no. >> but it is open. now serves as the center for humanitarian aid distribution. and guiding those planes from the same roof on which so much sought shelter now stand american air force air traffic controllers who saw a tragedy and were able to help. >> you feel kind of sad but you know you're here for a job and hopefully you can bring some relief to the japanese people. >> reporter: once an iconic image of a disaster, it has now been transformed into an early sign of hope. martin savidge, cnn, sendai, japan. >> and you're in "the situation room." happening now, libyan rebels advance into the heartland of moammar gadhafi loyalists. but fierce fighting erupts not
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far from the libyan leader's hometown. president obama gets ready to speak to the nation about libya an hour and a half from now. he'll address the concerns, the criticisms about the latest u.s. military mission. and new concerns in this country about japan's nuclear crisis as radiation reaches all the way across to the united states. is there any real kind of health risk? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." fighting raging in libya as rebels take advantage of allied air strikes to push forward against forces loyal to moammar gadhafi. in just 90 minutes, president obama will speak to the nation, indeed, to the world addressing widespread concerns about america's latest military involvement. cnn, of course, will bring you the speech live. the allied air strikes have
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enabled the rebels to move into an area which is the traditional strong hold of moammar gadhafi. but they're meeting strong resistance. arwa damon reports from the frontline of that fight. >> the battlefield here has suddenly and drastically changed as opposition fighters enter into gadhafi loyalist territory. we're around 20 kilometers away from an area where the fighters were forced to retreat out of there shot at by residents. one of the fighters telling us when this he entered the area, they began searching homes and found a number of weapons they say gadhafi gave to family members to the men. this area. they say they asked residents to join the opposition and then decided to withdraw from this area. but as they were withdrawing they say they came under a hail, a volley of gunfire that only intensified as they were forced to withdraw. the fighters telling us they plan on regrouping and
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reentering this area hoping that the families heed their warning and evacuate. up till this point, the opposition had encountered fairly little resistance and opposition from gadhafi's military. but it most certainly appears as if the street to street battle has only just begun. arwa damon, cnn in eastern libya. >> we're just getting this in from the reuters news agency. western coalition forces bombed the libyan town of sirman about 70 kilometers, 45 miles west of the capital tripoli. this according to the state media. the libyan state media which supports gadhafi. they also say that civilian and military targets have been hit. libyan state television said a leather factor was struck by what they called colonial and crusader aggressors. the rebels have been hard pressed in the western city of misrata which has taken a pounding by gadhafi's forces.
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our senior international correspondent nic robertson got a firsthand look at that battleground look earlier in the do i. how did it go? >> well, wolf, this has taken weeks of asking to get access to misrata. the opposition say they've been under tank bombardment and sniper fire in the town there for several weeks now. what we found on the outskirts of the city, heavy damage traffic intersections manned by very edgy and nervous even shell shocked gadhafi soldiers. as we went closer into the center of the city, we passed a lot more damage at the roadside, mile after mile of daniel that looked as if it had been destroyed in fighting and close hand to hand type fighting or shelling from a distance. very hard to tell. we could see thanks hiding under trees at the side of the road, heavy artillery, howitzers out in the open fields and gadhafi's
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government had organized a small pro-gadhafi demonstration which was as far as they would let us go. they wouldn't let us go into the last two or three miles into the center of the city. the government forces were telling us they control the city but they wouldn't let us see it. very hard to know exactly what's taking place in the fighting but very clear there has been very intense fighting and bombardment going on there, wolf. >> another story that has caused emotional outburst not only here in the united states but around the world, this woman who burst in over weekend into the hotel where you and the foreign journalists are staying and accused libyan gadhafi forces of raping her. she supposedly has been released from custody. what's the latest information you have on her fate? s>> reporter: well, that's righ, wolf. when she came into the hotel, government officials tried to
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shut her up. she was threatened by a knife by one of the hotel staff here. she was bundled out by government officials. last night the government spokesman said she had been released into back into tripoli. but there's no evidence of that. so far as we can see. and nobody we know has been able to be in touch with her yet. what is very interesting and i'm just learning on twitter at the moment, it's yet to be confirmed, but it appears her family in an effort to maintain her honor is going to marry her with her agreement we're told in absentia so that she can maintain her honor and dignity. she's obviously very important in this culture to be marrying inside her tribe which means one very, very clear thing right now if this problems to be true is that her tribe is standing behind her, her family, and against this government, wolf. >> do we know who she's going to be married to?
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>> reporter: wolf, from what i understand, and again we've yet to run all these details down. this is information we're only just getting in. it does appear to be somebody else within her tribe which shows her tribe which is so important in this culture and country which is a very tribal culture and that somebody in her tribe is marrying her shows the tribe is supporting her. more than symbolic. very important for her safety and security, wolf. >> i know you'll stay on top of the story. what about the anticipation in tripoli where gadhafi remains in power, his forces there remain strong, at least in the capital in what's the anticipation going into president obama's big speech tonight on libya? >> you know, i think a lot of people are going to be looking if there is any change in position there. they're going to want to see, is there some new diplomatic offering here, some indication
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that the coalition strikes will be backing off. there's a great degree of concern in the city about the shortages they're beginning to experience, shortages that we see here are fuel, long lines at the fuel pumps. every town and village we drove through today in the two to three-hour drive to misrata, from one had a huge line at the gas pump. they're going to want to see is there any change in the international position, can they see light at the end of the tunnel. for frentzen on t for everyone we see, they're worried about their families. they want to know that this country isn't going to zee skend further into war. >> nic will be with us throughout the fight for our coverage of the president's speech. thank you very much. air strikes are making a big difference on the ground in libya. let's take a closer look at the u.s. and coalition military role for that. we're joined by army major james
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"spider" marks. this e-mail from general cart kerham, the head of the u.s. military's africa command until nato takes full control is still in charge of the u.s. military aspect of this. he sent this e-mail out, "the new york times" got it. the regime still vastly overmatches opposition forces militarily. the regime possesses the capability to roll them back very quickly. coles air power is the major reason that has not happened. now, if i read that and i interpret that, it says to me coles air power is going to have to remain over libya for a relatively long time. >> it should be no surprise, we have seen any advances that the rebels have made over the course of the last week has been as a result of close air support, the air to ground efforts that have been made by the coalition. soon to be nato. and no-fly zone in place. and then the air to ground attack missions that are primary taking place as a result of u.s., the french and the uk. we shouldn't be surprised that
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we've chosen sides as we've discussed before on the side of the rebels. and they continued to advance. if they close in with gadhafi's forces we're going to continue to provide that assistance so they can continue to advance. >> the vice admiral in charge of the joint staff, the director of the joint staff at the pentagon had a briefing today. and he suggested that the opposition were not very well organized, not very robust which further suggested that the coles, including the united states is going to be deeply involved in all of this. >> we shouldn't be surprised. absolutely. when you look at the rebels and we have enough reporting on what they look like, it's a band of incredible patriots but we don't know what makes them up. and we can say with certain degree, with a large degree of certainty that there isn't a lot of professional military folks that are in those ranks leading these efforts. in the areas where it makes sense. clearly, you can have some very senior guys that have defected from gadhafi's military and now
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assisting the rebels. but what you really need is that noncommissioned officer corps that permeates and provides the eeth those of professionalism. it's not there. >> you spent 30 years plus in the united states military. what do the men and women of the united states military want to hear from their commander in chief tonight when he speaks at the national defense university at ft. mcnair here in washington? >> the folks that are in uniform are going to follow the orders of those that are appointed them. the officers and certainly the commander in chief. so it's not the soldier, it's not the military individual's position to question the commander in chief on those provide orders provided. they have been given a mission to execute the no flight zone, continue to assist in air to ground attack missions against gadhafi's forces. that's their mission right now. from our perspective, there's a gap between what's taking place
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on the ground and what we think and what has been articulated as the end state which is gadhafi has to be gone. there's a bit of hope that this air campaign is going to get gadhafi out. there aren't indicators that he's going to follow in that path. we certainly saw the experience with milosevic. and saddam hussein in excess of a decade with a flow p no fly and no drive zone in iraq and he survived. i don't know how we can connect the dots that this air campaign alone is going to force gadhafi out. even though are are diplomatic methods and economic sanctions. i don't know that gadhafi really cares. >> as general gel win has always said to me, clarity of mission slul is the most important thing that the military wants to hear from the commander in chief. tell us what you want to doen an we'll do it. just be clear and when they hear one thing from the united nations, protect civilians, whatever, create this the no-fly
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zone, but they hear the president of the united states say gadhafi must go, that clarity of mission isn't necessarily all that clear. >> that's true. but you know, it's messy to us on the outside of it. inside this alliance, this coalition, it's pretty clear what they have to do based on the rules that are established right now. >> spider marks, thanks very much. a little over a week into the mission in libya, the pentagon says the u.s. is already drawing down its presence. but how much is it significant? and new information coming in about the radiation from that japanese nuclear plant reaching the u.s. east coast. including right outside the nation's capital. is it sith? stand by. [ male announcer ] ten people are going to win the chevrolet, buick, gmc or cadillac of their choice. push your onstar button and you could be one of them. even if you're not an onstar customer. ♪ just push your blue button and tell the advisor you want to enter the onstar push on sweepstakes.
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now frightening new twists in japan's nuclear crisis. officials have spotted plutonium in soil from the crippled fukushima daiichi plant. we're hearing a damaged reactor is leaking highly contaminated radioactive water, possibly into the ocean. let's go to tokyo. paula hancocks is joining us with more. what's the latest, paula? >> reporter: well, wolf, it's really reactor 2 that everybody's looking at in this point. it does appear as though there could be damage to the containment vessel, the protector of the reactor core. we've heard from the chief cabinet secretary that it is damaged and that it may be
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leaking. they don't know for sure at this point. we have seen contaminated water feeding into the turbine room and into cables and tunnels underground. and certainly that was not what was expected. at this point, they don't know exactly where the leak is, and they don't know the if this contaminated water is actually leaking out into the pacific ocean. we've certainly seen higher levels of radioactivity there. that's what they're trying to look into. the radiation levels are so high in these areas that workers cannot access these area. it's just too dangerous. so they're figuring out how to drain the water before they can see what the real damage is. there was plutonium found in soil samples. it is a nuclear by-product, but many expers are saying this is the least of the worries because it's pretty natural to find these levels of plutonium in this area. and also it could have been a by-product of previous nuclear tests from different countries. so the fallout from the tests in the air. now 9 evacuation zone still in
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place. we understand there are some people that are insisting on staying despite all this news coming out. some elderly people, some people too sick and apparently some people are going back because it's a farming area. they want to look after their animals. the government, of course, is trying to urge people to leave the area. wolf? >> the crisis in japan certainly continues. paula, we'll stay in touch with you. all of this ramping up fears of radioactive material reaching the united states from japan. and it appears that's already happening. at least in very, very tiny amounts. brian todd is working this part of the story for us. what do we know on this front, brian? >> wolf, at this juncture in this country, all eyes have been on something called rad net, the network of radiation detectors across the u.s. that looks for any traces from japan's nuclear release. it now appears some small amounts have been found. tiny amounts of radioactivity from the fukushima have now traveled at least halfway across
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the world as far as america's east coast. particles believed to have come from japan have been detected in the air or in rain water in at least a dozen states. is it a health risk? government officials say the levels are far lower than the amount that would pose any concern. sometimes thousands of times less. we caught up with the health director in maryland where radiation from fukushima was detected in the air and rain water. into what does it mean overall that this has traveled all the way from japan to now the east coast of the u.s.? >> it shows that an environmental event if one part of the world can be seen sort of echoes of it in other parts of the world. and you know, when chernobyl happened, a similar thing was seen. radioactive material can travel around in the weather patterns. it gets diluted and by the time it gets to a place like maryland, it's so small it's not a public health concern. >> so far no radioactive material has been found in drinking water or milk supplies in the u.s. the federal government is
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monitoring radiation, as well. we're on a rooftop in washington where the epa gave us access to a rad net fixed air monitor. it's a high volume monitor that measures three times the amount of air in one hour that we breathe in in one day. the air is sucked in under here and deposited on a filter right here but measured with a gamma and bate monitor. those measurements are transferred to a computer inside here where officials can come and look at it in realtime. that realtime data is the transferred to a u.s. government lab in alabama through this satellite dish right here. a cell phone transition right there and a fixed phone transition officials do come up and change the filter every couple of days to get more sensitive and accurate redundant information. officials had predicted some radiation from japan would cross pacific. they said the amount of exposure in the air in the u.s. is less than on an airline flight or from a chest x ray.
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one official understands why the public might be dangerous. >> these microscopic amounts in the u.s. is indeed microscopic. at the end of the day, we're dealing with really fears of people for that you know known or that unseen. it's very difficult -- it's a very difficult topic to convince some people of. >> reporter: michael freedlander says he sees the findings not as a health rick but as a testament to the ability of officials in the u.s. and nish to detect radiatirai -- officials to detect radioactivity in the air. >> not all of the radiation equipment in america was working? >> officials admitted several monitors were down in those days after the release from fukushima but they say there are enough monitors all around that if one is down that a nearby detector can pick up anything serious in the general area of that monitor that was down. so they say no gaps in the system.
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>> brian todd. thank you. one word you probably won't hear president obama say tonight that some people say he should say. stand by for that. and a pricey bachelor party for britain's prince william. stick around. you're in "the situation room."
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>> we go back to libya in a minute. first lisa is monitoring some of the other top stories in "the
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situation room." >> former president jimmy carter and his wife arrived in havana today and were welcomed by cuba's foreign minister. mr. carter is on a three-day private visit at president raul castro's invitation. he may try to help secure the release of an american contractor serving 15 years in prison for alleged sub version. and if you have been checking out "the new york times" website without a subscription, get ready to be blocked. as of today, the paper is charging readers for extended online access. you can still read 20 articles for free each month. but any more than that, you must either have a subscription or pay at least $15 a month. we're getting a few details coming out about the royal bachelor party. britain's prince william and 22 of his closest friends celebrated his upcoming wedding at a country estate. the cost? $4,000. prince william and kate middleton tie the knot april
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29th. all things considered, $4,000, for the royal family, $4,000 not a lot to spend on a bachelor party. >> he's a prince. he can go to vegas in an hour he can spend $4,000. if he wanted to go to a bachelor party over there. >> that is true. very tame bachelor party, $4,000. >> good for him. thank you. congratulations. s in libya. the pentagon says american presence is dropping but by how much. is it really significant? we're going back live to libya for a look at the next hurdle for the rebel forces. they're made from whole roasted nuts and dipped in creamy peanut butter, making your craving for a sweet & salty bar irresistible, by nature valley.
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we're waiting president obama's major speech to the nation tonight about america's military involvement in libya. one hour from now, he'll address the growing concerns about the u.s. role. our live coverage starts at the top of the hour. stand by for that. meanwhile, the fighting in libya rages on. the rebels today took advantage of allied air strikes to push into gadhafi loyalist territory before meeting some stiff resistance. the regime meanwhile claims to have taken an the city of misrata. the u.s. military is already
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scaling down its involvement in the operation. our pentagon correspondent chris lawrence is joining us now with more on the u.s. role. i guess it's relative when we say scaling down. what's the latest, chris? >> wolf, at least one navy sub has already moved out of the area. we're also told that another major ship that the u.s. had is no longer doing day to day operations, no longer involved in the day to day operations. so in some ways, you can already see where the u.s. role is starting to reduce. when you look at it over the weekend, british air strikes took out about 22 thanks on the ground. and they're continuing to hit areas like misrata. look at some of these pictures. sort of an aerial view of what it looks like after an air strike by some of the coalition authorities. what we're hearing now is that the opposition forces have now pushed west to within about 80 miles of sirte. we're hearing from the pentagon officials that the regime forces are preparing to dig in there.
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they're setting up checkpoints, placing thanks in the cities and an intelligence official is telling us he doesn't think that the opposition forces, these rebels, have the skills and the ability to push much more further west than they have up till now. >> clearly, the opposition is not well organized and it is not a very robust organization. i mean that's obviously. so any gain that they make is tenuous based on that. >> so white u.s. is drawing down in one area, they're also bringing in new capabilities. over the weekend, they started to bring in these a--10s, ac i 130z, gunships that are specifically designed to provide close air support to hit thanks, armored vehicles on the ground and to support troops that would be on the ground you know in this case, there are no american troops or coles troops on the
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ground. these air ships would obviously have a great deal of benefit to the rebel forces who are on the ground. there's also been some very precise targeting. they admitted that they have six tomahawk missiles at the headquarters of a unit extremely loyal to moammar gadhafi. commanded by one of his sons. >> when they remove a sub marine or a ship from the mediterranean, they've got a lot of other stuff, is it because they've already used up their tomahawk cruise missiles and have to resupply them or because they don't need them anymore? >> as they use tomahawks, it's an ongoing process where you go back, you resupply, you come back. if you really look at it over the timeline over the past week or so, you know, very few tomahawks are being fired today compared to say a week ago. so some of those assets are no longer needed but what you are
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seeing is this really direct targeting on the ground. not only going after say thanks or troops, but also hitting his ammo supply stores, very specific targeting. and so that's why they've brought in this new armament over the weekend. >> chris lawrence at the pentagon. thanks very much. the u.s. military mission continues. the fortunes of moammar gadhafi and the libyan rebels seem to change by the day even by the hour. but one thing is clear -- the opposition fighters say they couldn't do what they're doing without the u.s. and coalition air strikes. cnn's tom foreman shows us town by town what's happening. >> wolf, this has been a real push/pull from the begin. we watched the opposition currently out of benghazi and take city after city early on as they progressed to toward tripoli. back in late february, it looked for a little while like moammar gadhafi was and the verge of being pushed out. all of his forces collapsed.
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but then he started pushing back. and one by one, his forces came in and started taking back the area that the opposition had held pushing right up on to benghazi, their strong hold. and it looked like then they might collapse. that's when the international community came in. so far there have been more than 1600 missions flown against gadhafi's troops. almost 1,000 of those by the united states, the coalition a little over 600 of those pounding gadhafi's air forces and his defense forces in terms of air raids. and once again, the tide has turned. now look what's happened. the opposition forces have come back in once again taking cities now knocking on the door of sirte where he was born. here's where they met their first real opposition. they're running into real fighting and once again, they're saying we need this air support. bring in the coalition forces, fight back, push gadhafi's
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troops and gadhafi, his loyal t loyalists and the russians are saying hold on. that goes beyond the mission. if you bomb more at this point, you're no longer just supporting this side and keeping them from being slaughtered. you're actually helping them in an offensive maneuver against tripoli. the question is how that balance will work out. wolf? >> tom foreman. thank you. you won't see president obama in the oval office tonight. he will be a few miles away. but why? ed henry is already there. we'll check in with him at the national defense university. plus, fearing retaliation by moammar gadhafi. should we be worried? usa prime credit. my name peggy. you have question? ok...peggy. yes, i have 100,000 reward points. what are my options? ooh, many options. ooh. one keychain. b, trucker cap. look good for ladies. uh ok, how 'bout cash? cash? he want cash!
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and you could save 25%. wow... it's all in the wrists. ♪ nationwide is on your side we're now less than an hour away from president obama's address to the nation about the libya operation. the president will speak from the national defense university here in washington, d.c. at ft. mcnair. our white house correspondent ed henry is already there for us. set the scene for us. give us a little bit of the flavor of what's going on. >> well, wolf, a lot of people expect that you know, address about military action tends to be in the oval office. white house officials are saying the reason why they did not coos that venue is that this is a venue where the president can thank military personnel. sort of mid level, mid career service officers all military branchs. they're going to be here. and some of them have filed in behind me. a chance for the president to thank them for their service,
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afghanistan, iraq. that's what they'll say in public. in private, administration officials acknowledge the president didn't want an oval office address. he did not want to raise the stakes any more or raise the level of this and compare it to iraq, afghanistan, because his point tonight is this is a much more limited engagement than either of those conflicts. this came out from the hugh research center that give you an idea of the stark challenge this president has tonight. asked about whether or not there's a clear goal in libya for the u.s., only 39% say yes, 50% say no. asked about "uss involvement, how long will it last, for some time, 60% say some time. only 33% say it will be pretty quick. what's significant about that, it's just the opposite of what the president is trying to send in terms of a message tonight. he wants to say when you talk to white house officials that this is sort of a pivot point. now that nato has taken over the command of dealing with the nation in libya, this is a pivot point for the u.s. not a lot of americans are
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buying it yet, wolf. >> he was pretty upbeat in his saturday morning radio internet address on the war in libya. he didn't say mission accomplished but he came pretty close, which was surprising to me given the history of that the phrase "mission accomplished" back in 2003. what are officials at the white house saying? what kind of tone is he going to give the american public tonight, things are going great, the military is doing a fabulous job. we're almost at the end of this mission, or is he going to be more cautious? >> i think he's clearly going to be more cautious. when white house officials were asked that direct question whether this would be a mission accomplished moment, it's not going to be because they know that's fraught with the political peril. i think he wants to sort of walk that fine line, answer some of the questions that his critics on the republican and democratic side have had about the scope of this mission. some of the details. secondly if you think about it, this is the first major speech he's had since january when he was in tucson after that
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shooting tragedy. he rose to the occasion. republican critics say said he did a pretty good job. that was a time when the country was unified. instead right now have you people in his own party divide let alone the republicans and their view of this conflict right now. >> we'll stay in very close touch with you. ed is at the national defense university at ft. mcnair. 49 minutes to go before the president's speech. he set the scene. but what about the actual address itself in the one word you probably won't hear the president say tonight. plus, big changes on the front lines. we're taking a closer look at the rebels' military moves in libya. i know what works differently than many other allergy medications. omnaris. omnaris. to the nose! did you know nasal symptoms like congestion can be caused by allergic inflammation? omnaris relieves your symptoms by fighting inflammation. side effects may include headache, nosebleed and sore throat. [ inhales deeply ] i nipped my allergy symptoms in the bud. omnaris. ask your doctor. battling nasal allergy symptoms? omnaris combats the cause.
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many americans in and out of government are deeply concerned about the libya mission. questioning its goals, costs and length. we're waiting for president obama so address the nation about those concerns, his speech coming up in about 45 minutes. in the meantime, let's discuss with our national security contributor fran townsend and our cnn senior political analyst david gergen, both former presidential advisers. fran, you were homeland security advisor to president bush. how worried should americans be if gadhafi stays in power, he will retaliate by launching terror attacks against u.s.
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targets? >> well, wolf, i'm a great believer in we ought to take terrorists at their word when they threaten us, especially if they've successfully attacked us in the past. he was responsible for the bombing in germany against our military forces there. he was also responsible for pan am 103, the killing of hundreds over lockerbie. this is a man who knows how to retaliate and demonstrated that ability before. this time he has made perfectly clear after the the no-fly zone began and taking out of his anti-aircraft defenses that he would retaliate against the west. so the i think the we have to be -- i understand from sources the intelligence community is very much attuned to this and people are concerned that he will look for an opportunity maybe not immediately while he's worried about his own survival but over the long-term, he will look for an opportunity to attack the west. >> which raises the question, david, will the president tonight in his carefully crafted speech say the once again as he said before, gadhafi must go?
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there must be regime change in libya, gadhafi can no longer be the ruler of libya? >> wolf, i think it's very important for him tonight to define what success is. in the past, he said the u.s. policy is to get rid of gadhafi. presumably he will say that tonight. i think it's going to be interesting whether he embraces this as commander in chief. he's been a reluctant warrior. he didn't want to go into this and he wants out. for that reason, he's not using the word war. they've called it akin net tick military action, whatever that means. and very importantly, i think symbolically not giving the speech from the white house from the oval office as ed henry just reported sends a very clear signal that the president wants to diminish this in the minds of the american people. he doesn't want to consider it a war and is he really reluctant to be there. >> he will declare that nato is taking over command of this operation. let's not forget, fran, who's in
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charge of nato. the supreme commander is an american. >> an aide to donald rumsfeld, the commander of southern command. a very experienced but very he cerebral warrior, very much in the mold of david petraeus. you know, and admiral stavritas has worked very hard behind the scenes to try to pull this nato coalition oth in taking over this mission. we can't are up a conflict like this, whatever you call it, war orkin net tick military action, by committee. and especially if we have -- a threat against the u.s. or western allies. >> it's already cost u.s. taxpayers in the first week alone hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe $500 million so far, david. should the president tonight specifically tell the american people who's going to pay for this military operation in libya? >> wolf, yes, he should. you should lay down as many
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specs as he can. the chris lawrence report i think raises another very important question. that is, if there is a stalemate, what are we going to do? are we going to arm the rebels, recognize the rebels? bomb gadhafi? we defended this as a humanitarian mission. now that the rebels are pushing forward and may have hit a wall and it turns into a stalemate, what is our position going to be. that could require more u.s. action and more nato action. i think we're all waiting for this now. can we have some answers to a lot of these questions and what about the entire region? are you going to talk about that, as well. >> fran, go ahead. >> i think david's right. he's got to talk about the entire region. what is the obama administration's policy towards engagement in this arab uprising? after all, if he doesn't address that, it looks like we're tough on egypt and push mubarak out but less tough on bahrain and silent on yemen and syria.
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he needs to put this in a contempt for the american people to persuade them that he's doing the right thing and to support our military and his policy. i think that's very important tonight. >> fran townsend, david gergen, guys, thanks very much. we'll, of course, have live coverage of the president's speech 41 minutes from now. unrest is spreading to other parts of the middle east. in syria, protesters continue to demonstrate. how is the government responding? stand by. esn't turn green just because the calendar says to. and that a big difference can grow from a small budget. for those of us with grass on our sneakers... dirt on our jeans... and a lawn that's as healthy as our savings... the days are about to get a whole lot greener. ♪ more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. we're lowering the cost of well-grounded plants. with miracle-gro garden soil for just $3.97.
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the national defense university, where president obama is getting ready to address the nation on the war in libya, that's coming up in about 35, 38 minutes or so from now. we'll, of course, have live coverage leading up to the president's speech. syria seems to be taking a dual approach to rising anti-government protests. crackdown but also offering some concessions here is cnn. >> the protests are keeping up the pressure and the government is responding with a mix of aggression and apeasement. demonstrators were able to chant we want dignity and freedom, not
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walls. security forces fired over the crowd but there was no reports of injuries. the demonstrators may soon see one of their demands met. official say the decade-old emergency law is being lifted and important decisions within the next couple of days. dozens have been killed in ten days of anti-government protests and the unrest has spread to om other town. the residents held a solidarity protest. the u.n. says at least 37 people have died in the last week. the government blames unidentified gunmen for the death. this shows deserted streets littered with rubble and burnt-out vehicles. men in black shirts and syria remains tense as it awaits word.
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unrest, meanwhile, is spreading across the middle east. at least 121 people are dead in southern yemen after an explosion in an ammunition factory. yemen's president has been struggling to hang on to power after months of protests. jordan's king abdullah is calling for peace. the king says the political reform process is under way, and we have nothing to fear. complete coverage of the president's address to the nation only a few minutes away. i'm john king right at the top of the hour. when we come back, one of the deadliest animals on the loose in new york city. like instant discounts, free-nights... ...and free breakfast at hotels in virtually every city. so, thanks to this large man in a little jetpack... you can search thousands of hotel freebies...
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right now only at priceline.
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in india, election results show how to vote for the election and in italy, a child and mother arrive. childrens celebrate the 90th anniversary of the communist party. hot shots, pictures from around the world. a deadly cobra is on the loose at new york's bronx zoo. jeanne moos is on the trail. >> reporter: send for the snake charmers. there's an escapee from the bronx zoo, a cobra, a young
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cobra, only 20 inches, thin as a pencil. the zoo's reptile house has been closed and a poisonous snake was discovered and public walking through here. wonderful. >> then i'm going home. it's my little precious guy here. >> what do we talk to about getting my money back? >> zoo goers walked past the reptile house and it felt more like a haunted house. >> reporter: it can kill in 20 minutes and it's not exactly snake on a plane. zoo officials are confident that it's still inside the reptile house but right now they say it's the snake's game. our best strategy is patience. >> at this very moment we're told that the reptile team is inside looking for the snake. >> reporter: but they say the
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reptile house is an extremely complex environment. with pumps, et cetera, when the snake gets hungry and thirsty, it will come out of hiding but it may take days or even weeks. outside, a news chopper hovered. new york post dubbed the snake and it hasn't been this much excitement about a snake since a model was bitten by one earlier this month and the video went viral, so did the story that the snam had died from biting into toxic breast implants. experts said, no way, that snakes are not vampires. they do not suck when they bite. as for tracking down the missing cobra -- they are putting down a powder barrier to track the snake to see if it leaves the grounds of the zoo. that will be about as effective as trying to charm t
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